At this time of year we are all looking for cards …. Valentines, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fathers Day, Congratulations, Happy Birthday or just a note to say, “I’m thinking about you”. It is even lovelier when you come across cards that have been thoughtfully illustrated and Besheer, who runs card company Foxes & Angels alongside Clare, is a very talented illustrator indeed. I caught up with Besheer and Clare to celebrate their first year as “Foxes & Angels” … Hi & welcome!
Hi! We’re Besheer and Clare. We run a fledgling greeting card and gift wrap company called Foxes & Angels that we started back in January 2020. We’re almost at our first anniversary!
What inspired you to set up “Foxes & Angels”?
Besheer: I’ve worked as an illustrator for over 15 years for magazines, national newspapers and book covers before turning to teaching and illustrating for greeting card companies. I realised that if I started a company for myself I could really design my dream cards and work to my own schedule.
I am always curious to know the origins of brand names, so why did you choose “Foxes & Angels”? Did you consider other names?
B: Hmmm… yes we considered loads of names! Words using orange (one of my favourite colours, paper mill and card foundry, Hullabaloo. My first card collection had a strong theme of Foxes and Angels and so the name was born.
You have a lovely variety of card and gift wrap designs. What card designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far?
We recently held our first ‘virtual’ Christmas Fair and our ‘Christmas Outdoors’ premium card back sold out out in a matter of hours. The cards were inspired by people striving to get outdoors and appreciation for our London parks, more than ever, during this very unusual year we’ve had.
You use a variety of methods to illustrate and create your cards – Lino prints, drawing and painting. Have you got a favourite medium though to use? Favourite card?
B:I love the process of linocut printing. Cutting the soft lino blocks, rolling the ink and the magic of pulling off your first print after hours of planning and cutting is an absolute pleasure.
My favourite card at the moment is our Meadow Fox card that came out this summer and did very well. I’ve been obsessed with warm dusty pink colours juxtaposed with greys and whites.
As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas?
Our products will be available overseas in 2021 and we have been approached by an American distributor which is very exciting.
What inspires your illustrations? Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific to draw? Do you draw in situ or do you take photos and illustrate from there?
B: I’m inspired by going for walks in nature and I absolutely love mid century art and design, particularly the Grosvenor School of printmakers. I also get inspiration by looking at old children’s illustrated books.
Besheer, being an illustrator, some things must be easier to draw and create than others. What was the hardest or most unusual piece of illustration you’ve created so far?
B:I was asked to do a book cover illustration a few years ago for a collection of 18th Century Irish poems. It was a large panoramic beach scene. After doing lots of research and drawings I completed the illustration which featured a woman carrying an umbrella on a rainy beach. It was quite a detailed piece. Greeting cards are both easier and harder as you are working with such a small space.
I was asked to digitally erase the umbrella as it turns out that only the very wealthy people in society carried umbrellas until the 19th Century!
Have you always wanted to be an illustrator or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?
B: I was always going to be an artist or musician. My parents and grandparents were all one or the other so it’s in the blood! Going to art school just felt like a natural progression from school.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
B: As it’s mid winter I’m usually wearing old denim jeans and my dad’s old cream Arran double knit collar neck. The jumper is older than me and in better condition than some clothes I bought in the last year!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
B: I love Adolfo Dominguez for clothes (when I can afford them) and stationery shops like ‘Choosing Keeping’, it’s one of those shops that just looks enticing in the early evening. Clare loves White Stuff, Fatface and charity shops.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
B: I’m trying to find the perfect hat.
Boots or Shoes?
B: Do Desert boots counts as boots? Definitely boots for me. They’re more cosy.
Clare: Boots for me too. Besheer bought me a lovely pair last year from Josef Seibel in Covent Garden.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Foxes & Angels
Thanks so much Besheer & Clare for chatting to me! Congratulations on reaching your 1st Foxes & Angels Birthday and although 2020 was the strangest of years, well done in sticking with your dream and I wish you all the best in the future.
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Besheer & Clare.